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Massage Therapy - 7/15/2011

Massage therapy dates back thousands of years, where references and depictions first began appearing in ancient writings from China, Japan, India, The Middle East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Massaging became more popular as a remedy to soreness and injury in Europe during the Renaissance, where it spread throughout the continent. In the 1850s, two American physicians who had studied in Sweden introduced massage therapy in the United States, where it too became popular,

While scientific and technological advances in medical treatment waned interest in massage therapy during the 1930s and 1940s, its popularity resurged during the 1970’s in a large part due to athlete promotion. Today, an estimated 18 million people in the United States alone use many different types of massage therapy for a variety of health-related purposes, from stress and pain alleviation, to relaxation and mental wellness, to even a complement to major surgery or rehabilitation. 

While the term “massage therapy” encompasses a range of methods and techniques, in general, therapists press, rub, and otherwise manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body using mainly their hands and incorporating elbows, wrists, and feet if needed. Perhaps the most famous method, the Swedish massage, dictates the masseuse or masseur use long strokes, deep kneading circular movements, vibration, and tapping. The goal is to “wake up” the deeper parts of your muscle tissue and thus promoting circulation of blood and nutrients throughout your body while making you feel better.

Among the many other popular methods are sports massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point massage - which focuses on myofascial trigger points or muscle knots that are painful and can aversely affect your health - and reflexology - which applies pressure to the feet (or sometimes the hands or ears), to promote relaxation or healing in other parts of the body.

Although scientific research on the true effectiveness massage therapy may have is limited, there is evidence that massages may benefit at least some patients. According to one analysis, a single session of massage therapy can reduce “state anxiety”, - a reaction to a particular situation - blood pressure, and heart rate, while multiple sessions can reduce “trait anxiety” - general anxiety proneness – depression and pain. Furthermore, clinical practice guidelines issued in 2007 by the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians recommend that physicians consider using massage when patients with chronic low-back pain do not respond to conventional treatment.

Obviously, the relaxation of muscles and promotion of blood circulation feel great, but there are numerous theories about how massage therapy may affect the body at a deeper level. For example, the “gate control theory” suggests that massage may provide stimulation that helps to block pain signals sent to the brain. Other idea suggests that massage may stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the body, such as serotonin or endorphins, and cause beneficial mechanical changes in the body.

One concern about massage – that it is highly expensive and inconvenient - has been debunked in large part due to the range of innovative and efficient massage products available at On-the-go seatmat, and pillow massagers provide state of the art Shiatsu treatment at a low value wherever you go. If you want to reach those tough spots like your upper and lower back, specialized hand-held massagers and the ergonomically shapedTheracane (pictured right) are ideal. 

However, if you want supreme, all-encompassing massage comfort, offers a range of massage chairs that, even if only used a few minutes a day, will surely improve your wellness, mood, and mindset. At the top of our extensive massage chair inventory is theInada Sogno, which utilizes revolutionary technology to reach every square inch of your body with a relaxing massage.

No matter what steps you take towards massage therapy, or whether you are using it to relieve some stress or recuperate from an injury, you are sure to experience the ample benefits it can provide. While all benefits of massage therapy are not completely known, all signs point to a healthier, happier lifestyle. is a specialty retailer that provides high-end comfort solutions and ergonomic products for back pain and other physical conditions. The company offers pain relieving products for sleeping, working, exercising and relaxing including back and neck supports, specialty mattresses, office chairs, exercise and therapy equipment, recliners and massage chairs. Healthy Back sells recognizable name brands such as Herman Miller and Tempur-Pedic, but also represents smaller, specialized manufacturers offering a growing selection of house-branded goods. Healthy Back has 23 stores in 6 states across the United States, and also sells through its website and call center, making it the largest privately owned back care retailer.